By Tony Carrick | Updated Oct 6, 2021 7:57 AM
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Homes outside of municipal sewer systems rely on septic systems for waste management. A septic system requires the use of a good sewage pump to move a home’s wastewater to the septic tank. Unlike effluent pumps or sump pumps, which move only water, sewage pumps can move wastewater with solids up to 2 inches in diameter. The best sewage pumps feature powerful ½-horsepower motors that can move up to 10,000 gallons of wastewater per hour to the septic tank or the main sewage drain. They feature durable cast-iron construction that can hold up in the murky environment of a wastewater basin.
With so many types of sewage pumps on the market, determining which one is the right one can be challenging. This guide will go deep to determine what attributes are crucial to consider when shopping for a sewage pump while reviewing some of the top models on the market.
While the number of gallons per hour your sewage pump can move is perhaps the most crucial factor to consider when shopping for a pump, there are other critical factors, including the quality of the pump’s construction and the size of its motor. Ahead, learn more about these and other important attributes of a sewage pump.
Sewage pumps spend their lives submerged in wastewater, so they need to be durable to endure. With that in mind, most sewage pumps are made out of either cast iron or thermoplastic. Cast-iron pumps are more expensive but are stronger and more durable and will therefore last longer than thermoplastic, which is less costly but will give out long before an iron pump.
The impeller, which is the part of the pump that moves the water, also needs to be durable to withstand the solid waste that passes through it. While many sewage pumps use impellers that consist of high-grade plastic, higher-end pumps feature impellers made from stronger materials, including aluminum and cast iron.
Some sewage pumps are also designed to easily swap out pieces that are likely to wear out before the motor does. This includes the float that operates the sewage pumps automatic on/off switch and the power cord, both of which can eventually degrade.
When shopping for a sewage pump, it’s important to consider its size to determine if it will fit properly into a wastewater basin or septic pit. Most sewage pumps measure about 16 inches tall and 11 inches wide. The weight of these models varies depending on construction. High-end pumps with heavy-duty cast-iron housings can weigh up to 45 pounds, while models that feature cast-iron-and-plastic construction might weigh around 20 pounds.
It’s also crucial to consider the size of the pump’s input and output. Residential sewage pumps require an input and output of at least 2 inches to handle solid waste up to 2 inches in diameter. Anything smaller will easily clog.
Horsepower determines just how much sewage a pump can handle daily. With this in mind, the larger the household, the more horsepower a sewage pump needs to keep up with daily demand. A sewage pump with ½ horsepower is suitable for most homes, while large households with more than four people may require a sewage pump with 1 horsepower.
It’s important to remember that a sewage pump’s lifespan correlates to the number of hours it runs. More powerful sewage pumps need to run less often to move waste. This means they will have a longer lifespan than a weaker sewage pump that needs to work harder to handle a household’s needs. So, while a less powerful sewage pump may cost less upfront, it won’t last as long as a more powerful sewage pump, negating the savings.
Gallons per hour (GPH) determines how much wastewater a sewage pump can move in an hour. Some manufacturers also use gallons per minute (GPM). A sewage pump’s GPH or GPM is determined by its horsepower and the elevation between the pump and the main sewage line or septic system the pump is pumping waste to. Most sewage pumps will list their GPH with an elevation, commonly referred to as “head.” For example, a pump’s GPH might be 5 feet of head = 4,000. This means that the pump will move 4,000 gallons of water if the height difference between the pump and sewage line is 5 feet. The higher the elevation, the lower the GPH.
How much GPH a pump can produce is determined by the horsepower of its motor and its design. As with horsepower, purchasing a less expensive pump with a lower GPH will ultimately not save money, as it will have to work longer to pump out sewage and will give out more quickly than a more powerful pump that does not have to work as hard.
Most sewage pumps have features that protect the pump, and most come with thermal overload protection. This feature automatically shuts off the sewage pump at a specific temperature to avoid overheating and damaging the motor. This feature is necessary to prevent the pump from burning out if clogged. It’s much easier and less expensive to clear a clog than it is to replace a pump with a burned-out motor.
Sewage pumps also have floats that turn the pump on when the sewage reaches a certain level—typically around 15 inches—and off when the water level drops to about 6 inches.
The models below feature powerful motors, durable cast-iron construction, and high flow rates, making them some of the best models on the market. Any of the pumps below are worthy of serving as a home’s sewage-pump solution.
This model, from one of the oldest names in sewage pumps, may be an investment, but a durable build and high-performance motor make it worth it. The cast-iron construction gives this pump a confidence-inspiring, heavy-duty feel right out of the box. It’s equipped with a nonclogging impeller that easily passes solid waste. A ½-horsepower motor has a flow rate of 128 gallons per minute at a height of 5 feet and will pump out waste to a maximum height of 21.5 feet if needed. Its discharge valve will pass solids up to 2 inches in diameter.
A float switch automatically turns the pump off and on, depending on the water level. This model also includes an automatic shutoff if the pump runs dry, preventing damage. The Zoeller 267-0001 is 11 inches long, 13.6 inches wide, and 16 inches high.
Solid cast-iron construction and a powerful motor make this model from Liberty one of the more powerful models on the market—its ½-horsepower motor pumps out 160 gallons per minute to a height of 5 feet. A float switch turns on the pump when the water level is between 12 inches and 16 inches and turns it off when it falls below 6 inches from the bottom of the basin, while its impeller and discharge can handle solids up to 2 inches in diameter.
This model also features a quick-connect design with the power cord, which allows the user to replace the cord if worn without having to rewire the unit. The pump housing has a powder coat finish, which protects the pump from rust and corrosion. This pump is comparable in size to other sewage pumps at 11.5 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 16 inches high.
Durable construction and a high output make this sewage pump a worthy option. This ½-horsepower pump will move a respectable 4,800 gallons per hour at even height with an impressive maximum vertical height of 25 feet.
And while it may not have the same flow rate as higher-end pumps, this model impresses with the quality of its construction. It features cast-iron construction for durability and a black coating that protects the housing from rust and corrosion. The cast-aluminum impeller is stronger than the plastic impellers that other models use, making it better able to grind through potential clogs while also lasting longer. This pump, which can handle solids up to 2 inches in diameter, is average in size at 9.75 inches long, 16.75 inches high, and 9 inches wide.
Selected for its cast-iron construction, submersible capabilities, and the ability to move over 128 gallons per minute, the Zoeller model is our top pick for the best sewage pump. This pump can move water to a height of 21.5 feet and can take on small objects with its non-clogging impeller for easy, hassle-free use.
Alternatively, the Superior Pump option has the same cast-iron construction, but it comes with a smaller price tag. The advantage of a cast aluminum impeller means this pump can grind objects and move them to a max height of 25 feet. Be advised, though, that the 4,800 gallon per hour output means less water moved than the average pump.
Sewage pumps move a home’s wastewater (along with solids) into a septic system. Our selections for the best sewage pumps depended upon the materials used, the gallons per minute/hour moved, and the special features included to make usage hassle-free.
The above options are made from strong cast iron and aluminum construction for durability and submersibility. The above options also come with sturdy impellers to grind and move small debris and waste without clogging the pump. Both the interior and exterior components are also rust and corrosion resistant for optimal use and longevity.
Another advantage of the above options is their ability to reach heights of 21.5 to 25 feet at 80 to 128 gallons diverted per minute. Plus, some of the above options have automatic shut-off functions and float switches for efficiency.
If you’re wondering how a sewage pump is different from an effluent pump or what size sewage pump you need, then read on for answers.
An effluent pump or sump pump can pump gray water with minimal solids less than ½ inch in diameter, whereas a sewage pump can pump out black water that includes human waste up to 2 inches in diameter.
A home sewage pump must have the capacity to handle 2-inch solids. Beyond that, most homes need a ½-horsepower sewage pump that can pump about 5,000 gallons per hour to the height of the main sewage line or septic tank. Homes with sewage lines that are significantly higher than the sewage pump basin may require a more powerful pump to do the job.
A sewage pump will typically last between 7 and 10 years, depending on how hard it has to work and the quality of its construction.
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